White Spot

The sky is mixed this morning, with the sun shining through the clouds. The black dog is sleeping beside the bed and I call the front desk to send somebody to remove it. I check the news on the laptop and see that Buck Owens has died. There was a time, when I was a young teenager, that Buck Owens was too country for me. Then I listened to him on headphones, instead of AM radio, and really heard the music. It blew me away.

Buck Owens was the first person I ever played golf with.

"I don't know how," I said.

"Me neither," he said. "How hard can it be?"

Neither one of us were lying about not knowing how to play golf, but we had a good time anyway. It just took awhile.

Reading about Buck Owens dying is like reading about me dying. It's just a matter of whose turn is up today. The top of the hotel isn't any escape, no more than the life on the streets, smoking hash and partying all night long. There's no way out, especially if you eat the salmon mousse.

I look at the black dog sleeping beside my bed and see that a white spot has appeared just behind his right haunch. There is a knock on the door. It is the man in the tuxedo I found behind the curtain in the lobby yesterday. "Oui Monsieur? Je puex vous aider?"

"I'm not French. I'm American."

"Quelle suprise!"

He enters the room and inspects the dog, which is growing less substantial by the second. "Then you will please excuse my French, sir. You were rude yesterday. The doorman said you passed by without a greeting and were muttering."

"I was depressed. I was angry with the tulips and I wanted to smoke hash."

"Ah, the inevitability of death. You are close to sixty?"

"Closer than I am to fifty."

"The dog, sir, is gone."

"How do you do that?"

"It is immaterial."

"Who are you, anyway?"

"The man behind the curtain, of course."

"That is not my dog."

"As you can see, there is no dog. Have a pleasant day in Amsterdam, Inspector."

The doorman smiles and wishes me good day, as he is required to wish every guest good day. It's all part of his job. He's a working stiff, like most of the people staying here and working here, like us. It's all a game we play, a distraction from the organic world where we are born and where we have to die. I remember that I hurt Mr. Owen's feelings because I wrote that his features were vaguely simian, which was the same thing as saying he looked a little like a monkey.

He did, actually. But I didn't have to point it out. I have a mean streak, I reckon. Sometimes I don't know what to do with it, and then I remember that I am from a Christian culture, and can just unload it on Jesus.

"I'm a little loaded down ... could you possibly wait until after Easter?"

"Hey, I love you, man!"

"Well, okay. I love you too. Pile both of them on me."


"Yes. Insufferable prick and name dropper."

"Thanks, I feel better already."


Posted: Sun - March 26, 2006 at 02:06 AM